29 July 2016 Optical telescope system-level design considerations for a space-based gravitational wave mission
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The study of the Universe through gravitational waves will yield a revolutionary new perspective on the Universe, which has been intensely studied using electromagnetic signals in many wavelength bands. A space-based gravitational wave observatory will enable access to a rich array of astrophysical sources in the measurement band from 0.1 to 100 mHz, and nicely complement observations from ground-based detectors as well as pulsar timing arrays by sampling a different range of compact object masses and astrophysical processes. The observatory measures gravitational radiation by precisely monitoring the tiny change in the proper distance between pairs of freely falling proof masses. These masses are separated by millions of kilometers and, using a laser heterodyne interferometric technique, the change in their proper separation is detected to ~ 10 pm over timescales of 1000 seconds, a fractional precision of better than one part in 1019. Optical telescopes are essential for the implementation of this precision displacement measurement. In this paper we describe some of the key system level design considerations for the telescope subsystem in a mission context. The reference mission for this purpose is taken to be the enhanced Laser Interferometry Space Antenna mission (eLISA), a strong candidate for the European Space Agency’s Cosmic Visions L3 launch opportunity in 2034. We will review the flow-down of observatory level requirements to the telescope subsystem, particularly pertaining to the effects of telescope dimensional stability and scattered light suppression, two performance specifications which are somewhat different from the usual requirements for an image forming telescope.
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Jeffrey C. Livas, Jeffrey C. Livas, Shannon R. Sankar, Shannon R. Sankar, "Optical telescope system-level design considerations for a space-based gravitational wave mission", Proc. SPIE 9904, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 99041K (29 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2233249; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2233249

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